The Olive Branch Opening Statement for Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

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By: The Reverend Matt Handi

To Jackie, Lt. Governor Bysiewicz, our Town Manager Luiz, Chief Porter, Rep. Barry, Commissioner Dorantes and to all who are here in support of the Olive Branch, welcome to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in South Glastonbury.

We are honored and grateful for your presence here this morning and we so look forward to working with you over the course of many years as this necessary and meaningful program takes flight from the second floor of our parish house.

Now, in my line of work, we are given two really important commandments, love God and love your neighbor.

Distilled down to their essence, we are commanded to love.

This place, this parish is all about love, trying to find our way in this community to reach out and provide support where such a thing is needed, to send out our message of love and community where disagreement and discord might otherwise fill the air.

And this program, The Olive Branch, is all about love.

It is about giving a child things, yes, toys and clothing of course, and along with that the dignity and hope every child so deserves.

Folks coming to the Olive Branch will not be seen as less than, instead they will be welcomed into a community of love.

They will have the opportunity to grab their shopping bag and enter into rooms full of wonder and surprise where they will be able to choose those things that will bring them joy and hope and smiles.

And all of that is made possible because they will be surrounded by a community that loves them.

From Jackie’s hard work, from her conceiving this idea of treating a child with respect and caring to seeing the Olive Branch become reality, from all of the volunteers who will serve those in need, from this community of St. Luke’s who offer up this space and will provide assistance, from all of this comes one simple message: You who visit here are loved.

You are wholly and fully loved without question, without having to change who you are, without judgement, and without bounds, you are loved.

Jackie, welcome to the parish community of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

May God bless you and all of the work you do on behalf of those most vulnerable and in need of the love you show.

Blessings to you, to the Olive Branch, and to all who will enter this place.

Love will change their world and in fact, love has already changed this world.

The Olive Branch is evidence of that fact.

Thank you and may God bless you all.

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